5 Things We Need to Stop Telling Ourselves About Animals in Zoos!


MYTH 3: ‘Zoos are a ‘normal’ part of society’

Giraffes at Taronga zoo look out over Sydney city. In the grasslands, giraffes roam the woodlands in small groups and graze from trees and bushes. The common giraffe (and most subspecies) are not threatened in the wild.

There is nothing natural about a penguin, giraffe or elephant living in the middle of an Australian city. We’ve come to accept this as part of normal society. It’s only when things go wrong that we’re reminded that a city zoo is no place for an animal.

In 2015, a flood in Georgia devastated enclosures at the Tbilisi Zoo and saw dozens of zoo animals released on the streets, including lions, bears, wolves and a hippo.

Some 20 wolves, eight lions, white tigers, tigers, jackals, jaguars have either been shot dead by Special Forces or are missing. Mzia Sharashidze, Tbilisi Zoo spokeswoman

  • 2017: A white rhino named Vince was shot dead and his horns hacked off by intruders at Thoiry Zoo near Paris.
  • 2017: Government inspectors found that nearly 500 animals had died in less than 4 years at South Lakes Safari Zoo in Cumbria, UK. The inspectors cited “overcrowding, poor hygiene, poor nutrition, lack of suitable animal husbandry and a lack of any sort of developed veterinary care” as welfare concerns and recommended that the zoo’s license renewal be refused.
  • 2016: A 17 year old gorilla named Harambe was shot dead at Cincinnati Zoo when a four year old boy climbed into the enclosure. Opinions are divided as to whether the boy was in any danger from Harambe before he was killed by zookeepers.
  • 2015: A female gorilla named Julia, who had lived at Melbourne Zoo for 20 years, was attacked and killed by a younger male gorilla named Otana who had been transferred to the zoo from the UK.
  • 2015: Keepers at Duisburg Zoo in Germany shot dead a male orangutan who tried to escape, saying that a sedative would have taken too long to take effect.
  • 2015: Dozens of animals — including lions, tigers, monkeys and crocodiles — died from hunger or thirst at the Khan Younis Zoo in the Gaza Strip when they were left without care during the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.
  • 2012: A polar bear in Buenes Aires Zoo overheated and died. (Another heat-stressed and depressed polar bear named Arturo is currently held at an Argentinian zoo and, despite public pressure, the zoo Director has refused to have him relocated.)
  • 2008: A leaked memo revealed that a zookeeper at Melbourne Zoo had stabbed an elephant, Dokkoon, more than a dozen times with a sharp metal spike. The same memo exposed that a male gorilla, Rigo, had been kept in isolation for 16 years and four seals suffered partial blindness from the chlorine in the tiny pool they were kept in for up to three years while a $20 million dollar enclosure was built.
  • 2007: A kangaroo was euthanised after being hit by a train that runs through the Cleveland Zoo.
  • 2004: A 13 year old male gorilla, Jabari, escaped from Dallas Zoo and was shot and killed by police.
  • 2002: Flooding enclosures in Prague Zoo led to an elephant and hippopotamus being euthanised to ‘save’ them from drowning.
  • 2000: An 18 year old sloth bear named Medusa died of dehydration when Toledo Zoo officials locked her in a den to hibernate, not knowing that her species does not hibernate.

FACT: There is nothing “normal” about animals in zoos. Wild animals belong in the wild, not imprisoned in cities.


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